Monotheistic religions place God outside nature and denigrate all things physical as unspiritual. This has fostered an attitude that material things are traps, unimportant, or there purely to serve our needs. Pagans have a radically different outlook, seeing divinity and nature as connected at the least. For some, nature is the divine made manifest, for others, spirit pervades all things, or Gods are born of nature. The distinctions may seem subtle, but are important. However, what all of these approaches share is a sense that everything matters.
It’s very easy to live a careless life, taking without thought for the consequence, if you see the material world as ‘just stuff’. I assume this is what most people believe, because it makes sense of the way in which we as a species relate to the planet and its other inhabitants.
What happens if you embrace the idea that all thing, both living and inanimate, are full of spirit and inherently sacred? Not just the idea that temples and trees are sacred, but that there is spirit in the chair you are sitting on, a spark of divinity in your trousers. Look around you. If everything you can see has some kind of awareness and purpose of its own, if everything is connected through the flows of spirit, and you can imagine that, how ought you relate to it? To have such an awareness of the world, creates a need to step lightly, use minimally, give back and treat with respect. To do otherwise becomes painful.
Now, I can’t rationally and scientifically prove that everything has awareness. Our society’s notion of ‘rights’ depends a lot at present on ‘like a human’ – the more like us something can be proved to be, the more inclined we are to take care of it. That is an interesting prejudice. From a certain perspective, it doesn’t matter if everything is actually, objectively, measurably sacred. We ought to treat it that way anyway. Better a life based on respect, tolerance and sustainability than a philosophy of greed that will cost us the earth. So even if you are unable to believe that either god is everywhere, or that everything is equally valuable, consider the idea that there is much merit acting as though it were so anyway and explore what this does to your perspective, and your life.
One line to consider is how this affects sense of self. If all things are infused with spirit and to be treated as sacred, then I too (and you, dear reader) are also infused with spirit and inherently sacred. It is an understanding that makes self respect essential, accepting yourself as part of the magical whole that is existence. What then should you do, as a sacred, spiritual entity? Treating your own body and mind with respect becomes more important. Treating well the environment that nourishes you becomes more important. Seeking a connected, balanced, meaningful place in the world becomes vital. A whole different set of values, duties and creative possibilities emerge when we view ourselves as unique and precious, in a world that consists entirely of unique and precious things. Nothing, and no-one can be written off as worthless. Nothing should be discarded. Everything matters.